Somnath Temple : The sea-shore hindu temple in Gujarat (India)

I had a mission to travel to India for work in Gujarat state. I went to the cities of Somnath or Veraval (these two cities are small and located adjacent to each other, so people generally consider them as one city because they are practically merged into one). This city was considered difficult to reach for foreigners like me because there was no airport nearby. The closest airport was in Diu, which was 90 kilometers away. However, there were only 3-4 flights per week from Mumbai and the only other major airport nearby was Rajkot, which had more frequent flights (from Mumbai) but was 180 kilometers away. It took approximately 3 hours by car from Rajkot to Somnath/Veraval, while it took about 1 hour by plane from Mumbai. It can be said that it was not an easy opportunity to visit.

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This time, I had some free time of about half a day from work. So, I took advantage of this opportunity to explore the city, which I didn’t have the chance to visit often. There were only a few tourist attractions in this city, but there was one grand and magnificent place that was the ultimate destination for devout Hindus. That place was none other than the “Somnath Temple.”

The Somnath Temple is located on the western coast of Gujarat state. It is believed to be the first among the 12 sacred temples of India. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history, with the most recent reconstruction taking place in 1951. The architecture of the temple follows the Chaulukya style, in accordance with the beliefs of the Hindu religion. The temple stands at a height of 15 meters, with a towering flagpole measuring 8.2 meters at its pinnacle. Inside the temple, there is a sanctum sanctorum where sacred Hindu religious artifacts, such as the Shiva Lingam, are worshipped. The name “Somnath” refers to the Moon God in Hindu mythology. The Somnath Temple is situated in the heart of the city, just 1 kilometer away from the main highway (State Highway 51). It is easily noticeable from the road, thanks to prominent signage and a grand entrance gate. The temple is open for tourists to visit every day from 6AM to 9PM.

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Since this temple holds great religious significance according to the beliefs of Hinduism and the Indian people, it naturally comes with a considerable number of rules, regulations, and security measures to ensure its sanctity. Therefore, I can summarize them briefly as follows:

  1. Cameras, mobile phones, wallets, belt buckles, handbags, backpacks, and all types of baggage were strictly prohibited from being brought inside (only personal belongings such as clothes were allowed, even outerwear or jackets were not permitted). There was a luggage counter in front of the temple, where staff members were available to take care of belongings. This service was provided free of charge.
  2. Photography was strictly prohibited within the temple premises.
  3. Everyone, regardless of gender, had to undergo a thorough body search before entering the temple. Female visitors were searched by female police officers.
  4. Wearing shoes inside the temple’s sacred precinct was strictly prohibited. However, shoes could be worn within the temple’s surrounding area, and there were designated areas inside where visitors could safely deposit their footwear free of charge.
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After I had safely deposited my belongings, I proceeded to join the queue and explore the interior of the temple. As mentioned before, photography was strictly prohibited inside the temple, and there were thorough body searches in place. Anyone who thought of discreetly taking pictures with their mobile phones found it impossible to do so. Therefore, I could only capture images from outside the temple’s walls and its surrounding areas.

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The Shiva Lingam enshrined within the temple

(Source : https://www.holidify.com/places/somnath/photos.html)

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The interior of the temple’s sanctum sanctorum

(Source : http://www.somnath.org)

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Inside the temple, it wasn’t very large. I could explore every corner within an hour. However, the beauty and the intriguing elements were not limited to just the temple. Since the temple is located by the sea, the breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea was equally captivating. The temple had arranged a park-like area outside where visitors could enjoy the view and relax. Besides that, what interested me during my visit to different regions and countries was observing the local villages, markets, and shops to get a glimpse of the local way of life. However, before heading out, I always made sure to choose safe routes, avoiding deserted areas and nighttime walks. I took a stroll around the neighboring community and visited the nearby market before returning to my accommodation, which was the Lords Inn Somnath Hotel, located about 2 kilometers away from the temple. This hotel was considered the best option, being a 3-star hotel and the most expensive in the city, with prices ranging from approximately 45 – 50 USD per night.

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Today was another day when I felt great and relaxed after taking a few hours of leisure time during my work trip (but it didn’t affect my work, of course :-D). I had the opportunity to visit the small, unfamiliar city in India, Somnath-Veraval, exploring its architecture, significant landmarks, and way of life. This city is not a place I get to visit often, so it was truly a unique experience. If anyone has the chance to visit Somnath-Veraval, I highly recommend paying a visit to the Somnath Temple. It’s an absolute must-see, no doubt about it. 🙂

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Written By : SHIPY SIWARIT TIASUWATTISETH

HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/SHIPYSHIPDOTCOM

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